NEW YORK >> Carissa Moore was too shy to talk to her sports-star classmate.
Now a world champion surfer, Moore was a high school freshman who couldn’t get up the nerve to introduce herself to Michelle Wie, who’s 3 years older.
These days, the 19-year-old from Hawaii is setting an example as a teenage athlete breaking records and boundaries.
Moore became the youngest Association of Surfing Professionals women’s world champion at age 18 over the summer. And starting next month, she’ll be the only woman competing against more than 200 men in two events of the Triple Crown of Surfing on the North Shore of Oahu.
Moore isn’t quite sure what to make of the fact that kids now admire her, as she recently vented a bit to her father.
"I was feeling a little self-conscious and second-guessing myself," she said Tuesday. "I’m like, ‘Dad, I’m 19 years old. Who can look up to somebody who’s 19 years old?’"
She’s already accomplished lifelong goals.
"I’m definitely at that transition period, where I’ve gone from everything in my life up until this point has been to achieve that world title — waking up early before school, and getting my schoolwork done so that I can go to the beach, or like missing prom, it’s all been for this," Moore said. "So now I’m like, ‘What’s next? What do I do?’ I hope that next year when I’m on the world tour, I can give that world title another chance."
In her second year competing at the elite level, Moore became the first ASP women’s world champion from Hawaii since Margo Oberg in 1981. Along with defending her title, she’s got some nonsurfing goals to stay motivated: starting voice lessons, taking online classes to someday become an elementary school teacher. She was fascinated hearing her best friend, a pre-med student at Penn, talking about studying anatomy.
In the meantime, she’ll compete against the boys. Moore earned wild-card entries into the Reef Hawaiian Pro on Nov. 12-23 and the Vans World Cup of Surfing on Nov. 24-Dec. 6.
There is no women’s Triple Crown this year because of a lack of sponsors.
"I’m super flattered that they have given me the opportunity," Moore said. "If anything is good to come from this, I hope I can just bring attention to women’s surfing and hopefully bring our events back for next year."
Her biggest obstacle may be lack of experience. Moore will be one of the youngest surfers in the field.
She’s not trying to make some bold statement.
"It’s hard, because I think everybody wants something different and everybody expects something different from you," Moore said. "If I can just focus on what I love to do — and that’s surfing — I think the rest will fall into place."
She’ll need to add more power to her style on the big waves of the North Shore. Moore has competed against male surfers growing up.
"I enjoyed surfing with them because it was a challenge with no pressure," she said. "Everyone expected me to lose. Anything other than last place was like, ‘Yeah, Carissa that’s awesome.’"
She’s not giving herself enough credit: She’s beaten the boys before.
Moore and Wie attended Honolulu’s Punahou School, alma mater of President Barack Obama. Wie also gained fame for precocious success and competing against men. Moore regrets never saying hi to her in the halls. And maybe someday Wie will be introducing herself to Moore.